Leave public lands alone


Photo of federal lands in Bear Valley (Pete Zimowsky/Idaho Statesman)

Here we go again.

Some Idaho legislators and state officials are meeting to figure out ways to take over our federal public lands. It’s a bad idea.

The first session on the grand scheme of transferring federal lands to state management is planned by the Idaho Legislature’s Federal Lands Interim Committee from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday, Aug. 9, at the Idaho Capitol, Room East Wing 42, Lower Level, 700 W. Jefferson St. in Boise.

The Interim Committee, which you’ve got to think is a total waste of taxpayers’ money,  was established by the Idaho Legislature in April demanding that the federal government “imminently transfer title” to million acres of public lands in Idaho.

There’s plenty of opposition to the idea.  Idahoans have been consistently concerned that transferring ownership to the state will forever alter public access to outdoor recreational resources. Polling conducted in 2012 showed that 97 percent of Idahoans consider our public lands essential to Idaho’s quality of life. That same poll found that 73 percent of Idahoans agreed that one of the things the federal government does well is protect and preserve our national heritage through the management of our forests, parks and other public lands.

What are Idaho legislators and state officials thinking? Can Idaho really afford to manage federal lands? The Legislature can’t even fund state parks and drastically cut the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation budget several years ago.

The U.S. Forest Service said it shelled out $195 million to fight wildfires in Idaho during 2012. Is the state going to foot that bill? What about all that road maintenance on federal lands. Maintaining those roads in Idaho, the ones you and I use for hunting, camping, fishing and ATVing, cost the feds $7 million last year, according to a Forest Service report.
And then there’s maintenance of campgrounds and trails and the cost of law enforcement on federal lands.

Will the state will discover that it can’t afford to manage federal lands and start selling them to the highest bidder, so that the next time you head to your favorite hunting or fishing spot, it will be posted No Trespassing?

Just say no to Idaho’s plan to take over federal public lands. They need to be preserved for generations to come.

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Posted in Into the Outdoors